In august 2015, on my way back from Prague to Grenoble, I planned my trip with a stop in Zurich with one special objective… finally try out the Zurich airport airside tour with a stop at the famous runway intersection! In this post I will go through the details of the tours, show you some pictures of what you can see and give you some tips on how to get the most of it!
I had heard about and seen pictures from this tour for quite a few years, and it seemed pretty incredible! I am not aware of any other kind of similar scheduled tour elsewhere in the world. I mean, there is a scheduled bus tour in Prague, but they don’t have a dedicated spot that is that close to an active runway. Check out my other post about the Prague airport tour, which I visited last year with my friend Keishi. I have to say it is well worth the 10 or so euros!
Off to Observation Deck B
On the August Wednesday in question, I landed at Zurich around 12:30pm, and after a quick cockpit visit, I was on my way to the terrace to catch my tour.
Here’s how the Zurich tour works. From the Observation Deck B in Terminal 2 (B), you book one of the tours which cost 10 CHF (about 8 euros) at one of the following times:
From there, you pass security and board the bus for a trip around the airport! In case you want to visit the viewing terrace as well, you do have to pay the separate fee of 5 CHF.
Now, the main afternoon heavy departures wave happens more or less between 12-12:30pm and 1:30-2pm, according to Tis Meyer’s Zurich photo guide. This is the most interesting time to get on the tour as you have the most chances to see the bigger aircraft takeoff from the runway intersection.
The tour starts with a drive around the gates, and gives a bit of a glimpse of what it is to work on the ground. It then circles the south of the airport, heading to the fire station on the other side of the runway.
At the very end of the tour comes the real highlight, the runway 16/34 and 28/10 runways intersection. The first runway is almost always used for departures, and most heavy aircraft use it for takeoff. The other runway is also used for takeoffs, but mainly by narrowbody aircraft.
The best thing about the location is that the heavy aircraft will rotate almost exactly right in front of where you stand!
On the menu, you have the Swiss airlines A330, A340 and B777s, as well as Cathay Pacific and Thai 777-300ER. As we arrived to the little “garden”, the first plane to takeoff was HB-JNR, the Embraer that flew me in from Prague.
I wasn’t lucky that day with a completely overcast sky. In the end, it actually didn’t turn out so bad, at least I didn’t have to deal with mid-day top light.
The last aircraft that took off while we were at the intersection was this gorgeous Edelweiss A330-300, the highlight of the day for me.
After having spent about half an hour at the intersection, it was time to head back to the terminal. I can only recommend this bus tour, the sensations are quite unique, and I don’t think there are many other opportunities to stand next to a rotation heavy jet!
Do you know any other good airport bus tour? Let me know below.
Til next time!